When you first start working on freelance, most of all worry about how to quickly take an order. You are ready to say “yes” to each client, to respond to any project that appears in the list of proposals, so as not to sit for weeks and months without work. The risk is that you may end up saying yes to the wrong job.
This may sound strange, but if you want to succeed in freelance, you will have to learn to say no to certain customers, refuse some orders. After all, some tasks are ideal for your skills, others are not. By agreeing to the first job, you will soon be disappointed, at least.
You will lose money if you work at a rate lower than the one you deserve. You can also lose more interesting projects by working on boring and penny ones. At the same time, you will feel unmotivated if you do work that does not suit you.
Remember why you decided to become a freelancer? You probably wanted to spend more time on your favorite projects and free yourself from the official policy, which sometimes forces you to perform tasks outside of your job description.
Here are the projects that deserve a clear but polite no:
- Low-cost projects: if the client’s budget is too small, you will lose money twice: the first time because you are not paid enough for it, and the second time because you cannot work on other projects at better prices while you are busy with the current one (especially It’s a shame if you take on a very low-paying project for the sake of feedback).
- Projects that will not allow you to prove yourself: you want to make customers happy and proud of your work, but in some cases, you will not be able to do this because of too tight deadlines that do not allow you to reveal your potential as a specialist.
- Projects that run counter to your principles: they can reduce self-esteem, and then achieving high results will be difficult.
- Projects that do not meet your skills: if you think that you can not meet the expectations of the client, do not take up the job.
- Projects that do not interest you at all: you love your work, but sometimes you come across a project that seems uninteresting. Even if it pays well and matches your skills, it might be better not to take it. You will not be able to do the job perfectly if you are bored.
- Projects from clients that are unpleasant or inadequate: working with a client who makes ridiculous demands, or communicating with which causes discomfort, can be a nightmare. You do not deserve such treatment.
- Projects for which you do not have time: if you load yourself hard, you will simply disappoint customers when you can not meet the deadlines. And this, of course, will negatively affect future work.
Saying no to customers is scary. Each freelancer must be able to abandon the project at one time or another. However, overdue rents, an empty bank account may be enough reason to take up at least some work and work in general. In this case, you can say yes to the client, even if it is contrary to your principles.
But if you say “no” to projects that your soul does not lie in, it will save you from unnecessary problems. Then you can spend time looking for a more suitable project. However, try not to be too picky, otherwise, you will not have any tasks! If you decide to abandon the project, think to whom you can offer it. What does not suit you may be interesting for some of your friend’s freelancers.
How to find out that the project is “right”
Here are some basic questions to ask yourself before embarking on a project:
- Does this project fit my skills? (Read the project description carefully.)
- Do the deadlines suit me?
- Do I have time on the schedule to complete this project?
- Does this customer have good reviews? On freelance platforms, you can just check whether the client pays on time and has positive reviews from other freelancers.
- Does this project interest me?
- Does this project offer additional benefits? For example, it can give you the opportunity to gain new skills, a chance to work for a prestigious client or simply earn extra money.
How to write an attractive offer
Your bet on the project helps the client decide whether to give you work or not. Since high-quality presentation is very important, be sure to devote enough time to writing tempting offers. Over time, you will write them faster. If you already know which offers work well for your industry, save the template. Thus, you can save time for creating future bets by simply changing the details for each case.
Each proposal should include:
- Brief description of the project.
- Cost estimate.
- Indication of dates.
- What sources you provide, including draft options and changes.
To write the best offer:
- Read the project description carefully.
- Be sure that you are suitable for its implementation.
- Answer questions that the client has not yet asked, and try to predict what he really needs.
- Show that you are worried about a customer problem and determine how you can solve it.
- Submit relevant examples of your work.
- Make the sentence look decent: use paragraphs, proper punctuation, and a clear template.
10 most common questions from customers
If the client likes your offer, he will most likely contact you and ask a few additional questions before agreeing to cooperate. Prepare mentally for the fact that you will need to answer customer questions on all points of interest to him.
Think what exactly you can answer him.
For example, here are the questions most often asked to freelancers:
- How did you become a freelancer? A new client may ask some personal questions, for example: “When did you start working on freelance?”
- Can you show me examples of such work? The question may sound a little different, for example: “Have you already worked on similar projects?” or “What is your experience with this type of project?
- Tell us how you see the workflow? The client wants to understand how you work, and find out if you are ready to promptly answer his questions, when, at what time. The customer also wants to understand how open you are to constructive criticism and whether you can be flexible in collaboration.
- How much are your services? You must be prepared to confirm your prices and demonstrate the value of the services you provide.
- How loaded are you? Customers want to know how soon you can get started, and how many hours a week or a month you are ready to devote to their project.
- The client wants to know more about your experience in this field or related fields.
- How long have you been on freelance? Why are you doing this? Clients ask these questions to make sure that you have experience working as a freelancer and to make sure that you are not going to drop the project halfway. Many clients fear that you are freelancing just to kill the time until your next “real” job. Therefore, they worry that you will quit freelance if something more interesting comes up.
- What is the best way to contact you? The client wants to make sure it’s easy to contact you when he has questions. You may also be asked about the time zone to understand when it is best to communicate with you.
- What tools do you use? Some customers will want to know if you are using standard software and certain tools in their field. They can also check whether you are organized and familiar with the performance and communication trackers that the client team can use, for example, Asana, Slack, Toggl, etc.
- Do you have any feedback? Depending on the size and scale of the project, the client may request feedback, just to make sure that you are who you say you are and are competent enough in your field of activity. If you have reviews of other customers on the profile page, on a personal website or in a blog, you can send a link. If you are a beginner freelancer, you can ask your previous employers for recommendations.
3 weird questions to freelancers
There are standard questions for interviewing a freelancer, but there are those that are simply absurd. Here are three examples of similar questions that freelancers asked:
- “Maybe do the work for free?” Not! I won’t get “zeros” in electricity bills or loan payments, so you certainly can’t use the services of a freelancer for free.
- “Can you make my logo/website/content look like company X?” Here you need to politely remind the customer of copyright infringement. Tell the customer that you will do what he wants, BETTER than company X.
- “Can you read my mind?” Of course, customers usually do not ask about this directly. However, they can expect that you will provide the results they dream of without any further explanation on their part. Remember – you can do everything possible by interpreting their vision using the information provided. If you don’t understand something, feel free to ask. This will show that you are really interested in the project and want to do the job as well as possible.
Tips to help get your new freelancer ordering
When you have little experience or no customer reviews, your job search can be complicated. These tips will help make it easier:
- Actively look for work, looking for new vacancies posted on the freelance platform.
- View your profile and make it as impressive as possible.
- Create a portfolio that demonstrates your abilities, even if it consists of projects created for imaginary customers.
- Do not underestimate yourself – your rates may be lower than those of more experienced freelancers, but if you work for food, you will not be taken seriously.
- Be patient – it may take weeks for the client to get back to you, so don’t lose hope too soon.
- Build your reputation through real communication and active participation in online discussion forums for your industry. This will help you make a big statement about yourself and get helpful tips from more experienced freelancers.
- Agree to work in charitable organizations, do projects for relatives and friends in exchange for good recommendations and materials for your portfolio.
- Do not pretend that you have more experience than you actually have. If your portfolio is still not impressive, explain to the client why, and highlight your strengths, your desire for success and the desire to prove yourself.
How to maintain a stable order flow
The hardest thing is to get the first few projects, but being on a freelance, you will never stop looking for more and more work.
A few tips on how to ensure a permanent job:
- Ask customers to leave positive feedback on your profile page.
- Ask clients to recommend you to their colleagues.
- Ask clients to write a review that you can share in your future offers or on your website.
- Stay in touch with old customers to remind about your services and ask if they need any extra work (but don’t be too persistent).
Short or long term projects?
There is no wrong answer to this question. It completely depends on your personal preferences.
Advantages of long-term projects:
- More guaranteed income. You know that you will receive regular payments while the project lasts.
- You can build a relationship with a client. This increases the likelihood that you will get more work from him in the future.
- You can learn to truly understand the client and his needs, making it easier for you to interact.
- You have the opportunity to establish social relations with colleagues in the company.
- Accounting (in the case of work as a private equity fund) is simplified because you have fewer separate accounts and fewer customers who make payments.
The disadvantages of long-term projects are as follows:
- Your schedule will not be flexible, so it will not work so easily to take urgent work at the last moment.
- If you don’t like the project or your relationship with the client has deteriorated, you still have to complete it.
- If the customer does not pay, you will lose much more money.
- Your job search skills may become obsolete because you are not looking for work regularly.
- Your work is not diverse and maybe bored.
The advantages of short-term projects:
- More flexible schedule. You can easily fit into more projects or increase your workload when needed.
- Customers will know that they can count on you because you are always available for short-term work.
- You get more options for your versatile portfolio.
When you take short-term projects, you will also find disadvantages:
- You will spend more time searching for offers and creating bids.
- You will have to spend more time on demand and waiting for payment because it comes from several customers (especially inconvenient in case of delays).
- It will be harder to calculate your workload.
- Your income will be unstable – sometimes you don’t know when payments will be received.
What should be done
- Determine which projects you would like to implement and how to politely say “no” to those clients that you do not need.
- Browse all your job search opportunities (forums, social networks, freelancer sites) and find the ones that are right.
- Create a betting plan for a project that you can use to attract the attention of customers (and ideally get a job).
- Find out if you like short or long term projects.